Behind prison walls

A slow return to life
A lone figure, head bowed, seated on the floor of a dark prison cell with light filtering in through barred windows
Joseph Wright, The Prisoner (1787); public domain via Yale Center for British Art

by Fahad Shah

In our daily life, we walk past so many things every day. It is how life is, our lives, busily clinging to a schedule book. But when everything is snatched from you, you begin to look at the darkness with open eyes; zoom into the abyss, aiming to find meaning there. Eventually, you are able to see even in pitch dark. What you find there is nothing compared to normal life. But you may come to be happy in it. Small things, a tiny gesture, little happiness, become your purpose–your hope. This is how I felt in over two years of my life in prison on charges relating to my journalistic work. It has been ten weeks since I was released into a world both familiar and new. Chaos and relief. Stability, yet a continuous fear looms overhead. I feel more scared now than I was before.

For the society outside the prison walls, a prisoner is supposed to be insane, unfit to live among “normal people.” Within the dark walls of prison, everyone around me was the same–sent away into a hole, alone, and broken. Even in a crowd of over a thousand prisoners, one still feels lonely. There is nothing that can change the feeling. 

It’s a paywall, but a small one

Read this post and get our weekdaily newsletter for $3 a month